What a dope!

Michael Phelps


Michael Phelps has admitted to and apologized for making the choice to use marijuana while at a party in November. He attributed his poor judgment to being only 23, a widely criticized explanation of his indiscretion.

Although his swim eligibility is unlikely to change because the drug use was not during a competitive season, this could lead to a significant loss of endorsements and corporate sponsorship. Because of his success in the Olympic pool, Phelps was expected to pull in up to $100 million from companies who wish to use his face, name, and reputation to promote their products.

Many sponsoring companies advertise to children and young adults, which complicates the issue of continuing to market a drug-using athlete for product promotion.

Although Phelps said in his apology that this will not happen again, it is difficult to say for sure because this is not his first offense. The photo of the swimmer using a bong, which first surfaced in a British tabloid, was his second strike, following a drunk driving arrest that occurred shortly after he won six gold medals in the 2004 Olympics. Some marketing experts are saying that he will have to stay perfectly clean from now on if he expects to maintain his flow of cash, not to mention the respect of his peers and fans.

Some endorsements have already said they will stand by Phelps because the incident was an out of season mistake that will not be repeated. Others have refused comment and are expected to review the fine print in their contracts before making a decision.

If you were the head of a company using a Michael Phelps to promote your products, would you want to keep him contracted to market your products? How might this affect others’ view of your corporate judgment? Would it be fair for some of his endorsements to cancel his contract because of his actions at a social gathering? It was not in violation of the World Anti-Doping Agency policies. He has never failed a drug test while in competition. Make sure to consider that Phelps’ income is highly dependent on his image and how others use it for promotion of their products. Would the market in which you are advertising affect your decision? If you were marketing swimwear with Michael Phelps, would you honor the contract? What if it was marketing children’s swimwear? What if you contracted Phelps to market a sports drink or nutritional supplement? Would his health habits affect your desire to keep that contract?

Thoughts welcome!!


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Posted on February 2, 2009, in Drugs and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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